A Week in Parliament


I was pleased to take part in this year’s Glasgow Kiltwalk again. It is a great event to be part of, and into the bargain I was able to raise funds for the local charity Break The Silence. Any donations are topped up by 40% by the Sir Tom Hunter Foundation, and there is still time to donate if anyone feels inclined. It was also great to see Centrestage put on entertainment again – the songs at the right time just gives a wee boost. 

Independence Referendum

Nicola Sturgeon has announced an intention to hold another referendum before the end of the Scottish Parliamentary term in 2021. There are a few myths about a referendum -the most common one is “there is no mandate”. The reality is that the possibility of a referendum explicitly linked to a Brexit vote was included in the SNP manifesto. The SNP were elected in 2016 with a record vote share and subsequently there has been a vote in the Scottish Parliament calling for a referendum, so the mandate for one is clear.

But we were promised the last one was a “once in a generation “vote is the next most common refrain. The reality was that Alex Salmond said that “in his opinion.” There was nothing binding and circumstances change.

“The EU vote was a UK wide vote, and Scotland wasn’t on the ballot paper.” This is factually correct. However, again, the SNP made it clear that a UK vote that over rides a Scottish vote for Brexit could trigger another referendum. The key point here with the “UK wide vote” is also means accepting that Scotland’s vote never matters – we only get a Government or vote outcome based on how England votes. In my lifetime, in 1970, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 2010, 2015 and 2017, Scotland has had Tory Governments that we did not vote for. In four other elections, Scotland did get a Labour Government that reflected the views of the majority of voters. However, our votes did not actually make a difference – if the Scottish votes and seats were discarded, there would still have been a Labour Government anyway due to the votes in England. We deserve a better democratic system.

“No-one wants another referendum” – this is also untrue. I accept many will not, but a clear majority in opinion polls do want another referendum, although there are differing views on how soon it should be.

On the pro-independence side there are also some myths- that the Scottish Parliament can “dissolve the union” in a vote. This is a fallacy as the new Parliament is not a continuation of the 1707 parliament. Another call is to simply declare independence (UDI). Such a process relies on other countries recognising Scotland as an independent country and without some form of vote that proves the majority of people want independence then most countries would not recognise our independence. This is why another vote is required. If Theresa May can bring back her vote several times, then who is she to deny our population a say in their future?

These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard.